What should I do to take care of my child’s teeth?
Q. What should I do to take care of my child’s teeth?
A. I get this question often. Below are the recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
Best Practices for Pediatric Home Oral Care:
- Practice good oral hygiene and seek dental care to avoid parental bacterial transmission.
- Minimize exposure to foods that can lead to early childhood caries.
- Hold the infant while feeding; never prop a bottle.
- Do not allow the infant to fall asleep with a bottle that contains milk, formula, juice, or other sweetened liquid.
- Clean gums after every meal with a soft cloth or gauze.
1 to 4 years
- Brush the child’s teeth twice daily as soon as they erupt.
- At an appropriate age, give children more freedom to brush on their own as they begin to do a more thorough job. Few children can do an adequate job of cleaning their mouths by themselves before age 5, so proceed with caution.
- For children younger than age 2, brush the teeth with plain water twice daily, unless advised by a dentist to use fluoride toothpaste.
- For children ages 2 years and older, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste twice daily.
5 to 10 years
- Help with and supervise the brushing of a child’s teeth at least twice daily and with flossing if recommended by a dentist.
- Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Ensure the child drinks fluoridated water or uses prescribed fluoride supplements.
- Make sure nutritious foods are available to children, while continuing to emphasize healthful eating patterns and the moderation of snacks established in infancy and early childhood.
11 to 21 years
- Continue vigilant oral hygiene as taught in early childhood.
- The dentist should consider dietary analysis, topical fluoride, antimicrobial regimens, and dental sealants for high-risk patients.
- Be aware that adolescents’ risk of caries can be increased by susceptible tooth enamel as a result of:
- immature enamel in newly-erupted permanent teeth
- indifference to oral hygiene
- frequent and unregulated exposure to high quantities of natural and refined sugars
- eating disorders, such as bulimia
- use of certain drugs, such as methamphetamine
- frequent consumption of acidic drinks that can erode enamel
Source: Ed. Paul Casamassimo. Promoting Oral Health. Bright Futures:
Health Care Professionals Tools and Resources; 2008.
Source: Oral Health for Adults: Fact Sheets and FAQs. U.S. Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention; 2006.